What: Lafayette (6-16, 4-7 PL) at Bucknell (16-8, 10-1 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2018, 7 p.m. (ET)
TV: Stadium TV (Station List)
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com

Tickets: 570-577-1000 or purchase online

PROMOTIONS & HAPPENINGS:
  • Alumni Game (12:30 p.m., open to the public, free admission), sponsored by Visit Myrtle Beach.  
  • 14th Annual Dirk Sojka's Slam Dunk with Bison Basketball. Silent auction, raffle prizes to benefit Suncom Industries. Suncom is a nonprofit, human services agency, which helps people with developmental and physical disabilities improve the quality of their lives. The organization’s goal is to provide the vocational training and skill development for individuals to grow to their fullest potential. The late Dirk Sojka, the son of Gary and Sandy Sojka, worked at Suncom before his passing in July 2002.

• COMPLETE GAME NOTES

Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (14.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.5 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (6.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
F: Zach Thomas (21.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg)

With a Win over Lafayette, Bucknell Would ... 

• ... improve to 17-8 overall, 11-1 in the Patriot League and 9-1 at home this season.

• ... maintain at least a two-game lead in the Patriot League.

• ... win its 10th straight game, which would be its longest since a 12-game streak in 2011-12. It would be tied for the 12th-longest streak in school history, and tied for the sixth-longest within a single season.

• ... beat the Leopards for the sixth straight time.

• ... also win its 13th in the last 14, and 17th in its last 21.

• ... improve to 60-31 under Nathan Davis.

• ... improve to 101-25 in Patriot League play since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Headlines

• The Bison are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the country, winning nine straight games since a Jan. 2 loss to Boston University. Dating back to mid-December, they have won 12 of their last 13 games, and they are 16-4 since starting the season with consecutive road losses at Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland. Bucknell has also captured seven straight road wins, the second-longest active streak in the nation and one shy of the school record set in 1974-75, when Jim Valvano was head coach.

• Bucknell is one of 30 teams in the country with either zero or one conference loss. The Bison took a two-game lead in the Patriot League race with last Sunday’s critical win at second-place Boston University. A loss would have created a tie for first place and given the Terriers a season sweep and the tiebreaker advantage.

• Bucknell has trailed at the half in four of its 10 Patriot League victories. The most recent comeback came on Wednesday night, when the Bison fell behind by 19 with 5:00 left in the first half, cut it to 10 by halftime, then rallied to beat Army West Point 83-71 in overtime. The 19-point deficit was the largest the Bison have overcome in a victory this season. 

• Bucknell jumped back into the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major rankings at No. 24 this week.

• The Bison have been getting it done with defense of late. In Patriot League play, Bucknell is holding opponents to 39.4% shooting from the field and 30.6% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 67.2 points per game and 0.91 points per possession. The Bison are also +5.3 on the glass and are averaging 5.5 blocks per game.

• Offensively, Bucknell averages a league-best 80.3 points per game in league play, even though at times it has struggled with 3-point shooting (.322) and turnovers (14.0 per game).

• Stephen Brown, a veteran of 107 consecutive starts at point guard, has played some of the best ball of his career in recent weeks, particularly in the two road wins last week. Brown scored a career-high 27 points, hitting 7 of 9 from long distance, at Navy, and he tallied 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals at Boston University. Brown did not commit a turnover or a foul in either game while scoring 48 points in 57 minutes. Brown is scoring at a 15.5 ppg clip in Patriot League play, the eighth-best mark in the league.    

• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 21.3 points and 9.4 rebounds after his 32-point, 11 rebound performance against Army on Wednesday. Thomas, who was named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award mid-season watch list, is one of four Division I players currently leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding:

PLAYERS LEADING A CONFERENCE IN SCORING AND REBOUNDING

Zach Thomas, Bucknell (PL)                        20.8 ppg/9.3 rpg

Marvin Bagley III, Duke (ACC)                      21.5 ppg/11.4 rpg

Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s (WCC)                  22.3 ppg/10.5 rpg

Mike Daum, South Dakota State (Summit)       23.5 ppg/9.8 rpg

     

• Thomas has earned five Patriot League Player of the Week honors, giving Bucknell six this season (Nana Foulland has the other). Thomas has 13 20-point games (including three 30-point games) on the season, headlined by a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Nov. 26. Thomas now ranks 20th nationally in scoring, 33rd in rebounding, ninth in defensive rebounding, first in both free throw attempts and made free throws (through Thursday’s games).

• Thomas has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game 11 times this season. Only counting his made free throws (7.2 per game), Thomas would be the 46th-leading scorer in the Patriot League. Thomas already ranks in the top five on Bucknell’s single-season charts for made and attempted free throws.

• Bucknell’s three seniors — Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas — all rank in the top 11 in the Patriot League scoring race. They are averaging a combined 51.0 points per game and are accounting for 63.0% of the team’s points this season.

• The Bison were the unanimous favorite in the Patriot League Preseason Poll of head coaches and sports information directors. Nana Foulland was voted PL Preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team by Zach Thomas.

• Lafayette had lost six of its last seven games before dumping Colgate 93-83 in Easton on Wednesday. That gave the Leopards a season sweep of the Raiders, who entered the game in a tie for second place in the Patriot League. Despite a 6-16 overall record and a 4-7 league mark, the Leopards feature two of the conference’s top scorers in senior center Matt Klinewski (18.0 ppg) and freshman guard Alex Petrie (14.3 ppg overall, 18.2 in PL play). Petrie, who appears to be a strong Patriot League Rookie of the Year candidate, scored 26 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, in the first meeting of the season between the two teams.

How to Get the Game

• The Bucknell-Lafayette game will be televised by Stadium TV across its national lineup of cable networks, and the game will also stream live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv. Mike Watts and former Saint Joseph’s and Siena head coach John Griffin (father of Bucknell assistant coach John Griffin) will call the action, with Morgan Uber handling the sideline reporting duties.

• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong handling the play-by-play. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off. 

• The audio feed is available online free of charge on personal computers via BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com. To listen on iPhone and Android devices, download the official Bucknell Athletics app.

• Live statistics can be accessed via BucknellBison.com.

• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.

Last Time Out

• Zach Thomas scored 25 of his 32 points after halftime, and Bucknell stormed back from a 19-point deficit to defeat Army West Point 83-71 in overtime on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion. The first-place Bison won their ninth game in a row, improving to 16-8 overall and 10-1 in the Patriot League, and delivered head coach Nathan Davis his 200th career victory.

• Kimbal Mackenzie added 15 points for Bucknell and produced the biggest moment of the game, a 4-point play midway through the extra session that stretched Bucknell’s lead to seven.

• In addition to recording his third 30-point game of the season, Thomas added 11 rebounds and five steals. All five thefts came in big moments during the team’s largest comeback win of the season. Nana Foulland added 15 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and Stephen Brown had 11 points and a pair of steals, including one in the final 20 seconds of regulation that set up a wild finish.

• The Bison comeback was painstaking and at times frustrating, as they battled back despite major second-half struggles at the free-throw line and from the 3-point arc. They dominated in overtime, however, holding the Black Knights to 0-for-7 shooting while outscoring them 15-3. Bucknell pulled out the win in a game that it led for just 7:52.

• Mackenzie was the only Bison to make a 3-pointer in this one. He was 4-for-9 from the arc en route to a season-high 15 points, but the rest of the squad was 0-for-11. Bucknell shot 44.3% overall and overcame 17 turnovers. But it forced 19 Army turnovers and outscored the Black Knights 25-9 at the foul line (Bucknell 25-38; Army 9-10).

• The Black Knights appeared to be heading for a runaway in the early going. While Bucknell was struggling to get shots to fall, Army was rolling. A 15-0 run gave them a stunning 17-6 lead, and by the time Tucker Blackwell canned back-to-back treys around the six-minute mark, it was 36-17. Luke Morrison’s six-footer made it 38-19, but the Black Knights went 1-for-3 with seven turnovers in the final five minutes, and Bucknell outscored the visitors 64-33 over the remainder of the game.

• After starting the night 17-for-28 (.607), Army was just 11-for-41 (.268) the rest of the way. Army finished at 40.6%overall and 6-for-20 from long range.

Bucknell vs. Lafayette

• Bucknell and Lafayette have met 164 times previously, making the Leopards Bucknell’s second most-played opponent (the Bison have played Lehigh 170 times). Since the series began in 1915, Lafayette leads 89-75.

• Since the start of Patriot League play in 1990-91, however, Bucknell has won 46 of 63 meetings.

• Lafayette won 33 of the first 37 meetings and led the series 60-14 at one point.

• Bucknell had been 15-0 all-time against Lafayette in Sojka Pavilion until the Leopards posted their first win there in 2013-14. The Bison are now 18-2 against Lafayette in Sojka Pavilion and 26-5 against the Leopards in Lewisburg going back to the Patriot League’s first season.

• The Bison and Leopards have met in a conference championship game four times, with Bucknell winning three of those. The Bison defeated Lafayette 71-65 in the 1989 East Coast Conference final in Towson, Md., and they also won Patriot League championship games in Sojka Pavilion in 2011 (72-57) and 2013 (64-56). Lafayette claimed the 1999 Patriot League title with a 67-63 win over the Bison in Easton.

• Bucknell has won the last five in the series, including sweeps in each of the last two seasons. Lafayette’s last win over the Bison was an 80-74 verdict in the 2015 Patriot League semifinals.

• Last season, Bucknell won 78-55 in Easton and 94-64 in Lewisburg. In the game at Kirby Sports Center, Zach Thomas recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bison parlayed 22 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points. They hit 12 3-pointers in that game, and then in the rematch at Sojka Pavilion Bucknell tied a school record with 17 treys and set a record with 40 3-point attempts. Thomas led the Bison with 20 points, and Stephen Brown hit five treys and scored 17. Matt Klinewski scored 20 for the Leopards.

• Back on Jan. 8 in Easton, Stephen Brown hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining in overtime — the shot put him over 1,000 points for his career — and Bucknell escaped with an 80-75 win. Brown finished with 19 points, 15 coming after halftime, to help the Bison erase a double-digit deficit. Fellow seniors Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland also had big nights, with both topping 20 points in double-doubles. Thomas tallied 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Foulland finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Alex Petrie scored 26 points for Lafayette, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime.

Patriot League Success

• Bucknell is 275-116 (.703) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison are now guaranteed at least a .500 record in PL play for the 24th time in 28 Patriot League seasons.

• Bucknell won three straight outright Patriot League regular-season titles from 2011-13, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat. The Bison have now won another three in a row and six of the last seven.

• Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Bucknell is 100-25 (.800) in Patriot League play.

• Bucknell has won 11 Patriot League regular-season titles in 27 years. No other team has more than five.

• Last year Bucknell made its eighth Patriot League Tournament appearance as the No. 1 seed.

• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013 and 2017. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 20 times and to the championship game 11 times in the 27-year history of the league.

• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).

Numbers Worth Noting

• Bucknell has played two overtime games this season and has yet to allow a field goal in extra time. The Bison held Lafayette to 0-for-8 shooting in OT in an 80-75 win on Jan. 8, and they held Army to 0-for-7 in Wednesday’s 83-71 win. Bucknell has a 25-8 scoring edge in the two OT periods.

• Zach Thomas has scored in double figures in 74 of his 79 career starts, including all but one this season.

• Bucknell is 25-3 in the month of January under head coach Nathan Davis.

• The Bison are 10-1 this season, 32-2 over the last two seasons, and 46-6 in the Davis era when leading at the half. Bucknell's only two losses over the last two seasons when leading at halftime came earlier this year at Maryland and last year at La Salle. uBucknell is averaging 43.9 points in the second halves of games this season, the 11th-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 47.2 ppg at home, which ranks seventh in the nation.

• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 81.2 points per game (41st nationally), but the Bison have also given up the second-most points (76.2) in the league (273rd nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.09 and allowing 1.02 points per possession on the season.

• Bucknell has ramped up the defense in Patriot League play, however. The Bison have allowed 70 points or fewer in regulation in nine of their 11 PL games, with both exceptions coming against Boston University. In PL games only, Bucknell is yielding only 0.91 points per possession, as opponents are shooting just 39.4% overall and 30.6% from the arc.

• The Bison are 12-1 when scoring 80 or more points, but 4-7 when scoring fewer than 80. The team’s lone loss when scoring 80 was a 93-81 setback at North Carolina on Nov. 15.

• Stephen Brown is averaging 16.9 ppg in his last nine games and 15.5 ppg in Patriot League play. The senior is taking more shots than at any other point in his career. Brown is averaging 11.3 FGA per game this season, nearly three more attempts above his previous career high of 8.6 last year.

• Nate Sestina has been productive off the bench for the Bison. He is averaging 6.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 16.1 ppg and 10.3 rpg. 

• Bucknell is shooting 49.0% from the field at home this season and 45.9% on the road, even though it has shot much better from the 3-point arc on the road (36.2% compared to 31.1% at Sojka Pavilion).

• 28.7% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 21st-highest rate in the country. Bucknell’s 578 free-throw attempts are fifth-most in the nation.

• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Zach Thomas ranks 31st out of all Division I players with a score of 28.22. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.

Who’s Got Next?

• After hosting Lafayette on Saturday, the Bison will have a quick turnaround before visiting Lehigh on Monday night. The game will air on CBS Sports Network. It will be the team’s fourth game in eight days.